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Indian Railways initiates large scale ad project; EY to help tap potential

Initiating a large-scale significant exercise to identify and leverage pan-India advertising opportunities at railway stations and trains, Indian Railways has appointed EY in India as consultant to undertake this job on its behalf. The Railway PSU - RITES, the consulting wing for Indian Railways, awarded the mandate to EY following a multi-party bid.

Initial estimates have indicated an advertising potential on Railways in excess of Rs 5,000 crore over the next few years.

EY has been assigned the job for tapping the advertising potential of Indian Railways assets, including fleet of trains spread in a wide network of about 7,000 railway stations across India. EY, with its specialised offering Marketing and Advertising Risk Services (MARS), will help the Indian Railways to identify assets across its stations for the purpose of advertising and will also develop a pricing strategy to evaluate them for advertisers. The firm has commenced its exercise.

In preliminary discussions held between Railway officials and EY officials, it was emphasised that the exercise is to be completed in a time bound frame. In these discussions, AK Mital, Chairman, Railway Board, pointed out, “This current move by the Indian Railways will allow for revenue enhancement for the enterprise without putting any burden on its passengers. EY and Indian Railways will engage with leading advertisers through the course of this project for effective optimisation of railway assets. In the past, the railways has used its assets to earn revenues through advertising, but limited to train wraps and display spaces in stations. This is the first time in the country that a large-scale project to identify and leverage pan-India advertising opportunities has been initiated.”

Farokh Balsara, Partner and National Leader – Media and Entertainment, EY India, commented, “There has never been a nation-wide assessment of advertising potential of assets at such a large scale. We are excited and proud to be associated with the Indian Railways on a project that will generate advertising revenues and in turn help to expand and improve services for commuters. This aligns with EY’s purpose of building a better working world.”

Bharat Rajamani, Director, EY India, added here, “Through this mandate, we will be creating a new medium for advertisers to leverage in order to reach their target audience. With a large expanse of assets and high measurability of its reach, the Indian Railways’ assets will be beneficial to local and national clients alike.”

Currently, advertisers face a lot of concerns in the outdoor media industry, including lack of reliable data pertaining to site visitors and vandalism of the outdoor assets. Hence, an important aspect of this exercise will be the creation of packages that meet specific demographic and geographic needs. Further, the advertising contracts need to be modified that allow ease of business to advertisers and increase transparency and accountability.

A unique aspect of this exercise will be the creation of a neutral assessment on the return of investments by advertisers in this medium. Advertisers struggle with the measurability of traditional media. In the case of railway assets, they will remain comforted as eyeballs, quantity of time spent and segmentation of viewers is highly quantifiable as the Railways maintains ticketing and station footfall data as part of their database.

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